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Home > Resources > PAF Publications > PAF Guides & Major Publications > A Healthier African Am Community > Cancers > Colorectal Cancer

African Americans and Colorectal Cancer
Colon and rectal cancer is the third most common cancer among African Americans. The number of African Americans diagnosed and dying from advanced stage colorectal cancer is higher than other population groups in the United States. The reason for this may be due to the fact that African Americans are less likely to undergo screening exams and are then more likely to be diagnosed in advanced stages, leaving fewer treatment options available to them. Colorectal cancer is highly preventable and is curable when caught early. Most cases of the disease begin as non-cancerous polyps, which are grape like growths lining the colon and rectum. These polyps can become cancerous. Removing the polyps can prevent colorectal cancer from ever developing.

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in or on the stool (bright red)
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • General stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness and/or cramps)
  • Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Frequent gas pains
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Constant tiredness
  • Vomiting

If you have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, see your health care professional immediately. These symptoms may be caused by several other conditions. You need to be evaluated to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Risk Factors:
  • Personal or family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • Personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease (colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • Lack of fiber in the diet
  • Age

Prevention/Best Defense
  • Diet high in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Increased fluid intake of non-alcoholic beverages
  • Screening tests beginning at age 50 (unless at high risk) or as indicated by a medical professional
  • Limit intake of red meat to once a day